customer experience retail

Report: BOPIS Use Soars While Demand for Curbside Pickup Declines

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Lululemon, Sephora, and Bloomingdale’s were just a few of the retail brands identified as “omnichannel leaders” in a new report released by the mobile-first omnichannel cloud platform NewStore

The report, released earlier this week, was based largely on the findings of a team of mystery shoppers conducting undercover research on physical stores across the country. Using a proprietary methodology, the mystery shoppers audited each retail brand’s online, mobile app, and in-store shopping experience, and then scored each across a variety of categories.

While auditors found signs of momentum among the 300 retail brands they researched, they also found plenty of room for improvement. Brands that began their digital transformations prior to the pandemic were found to be in a better position to increase their investment in omnichannel systems today, and those brands that didn’t invest in digital prior to 2020 were still lagging behind the competition. 

“The Omnichannel Leadership Report, at its core, is a comprehensive checklist of capabilities,” says NewStore Chief Marketing Officer Phil Granof. “We hope brands use it as such to understand the state of their solutions and services today, as well as those of their industry peers.”

Researchers found that more than half of retailers (54%) are now offering BOPIS (buy-online, pick-up in-store) services, but just 31% are showing store inventory availability online. One third of retail brands have a mobile app, and an impressive 76% are accepting contactless payments in-store. 

Fifty-percent of online shoppers say they use BOPIS, and 61% of that group says they use the service at least once per month. While the popularity of BOPIS has never been greater, researchers found that its sister-service, curbside pickup, is down from 34% in 2021 to 25% in 2022.

“Basic brands,” those in the middle-tier of pricing, indexed highest in mobile shopping app downloads, according to NewStore’s research, suggesting that they’re meeting their customers in the formats they prefer. Luxury brands were less likely to have gone all-in on mobile apps.

One of the biggest surprises in NewStore’s report has to do with adoption of endless aisle, which is the capability that allows store associates to sell inventory from any other enterprise location. Auditors found that 54% of stores now have endless aisle capabilities — an incredible 315% increase from 2021. Internal data from NewStore customers shows that endless aisle capabilities can increase store sales by up to 20%, so Granof says widespread adoption means good things for overall retail profitability. 

“While we thought there would be incremental innovation in this area, we did not anticipate the YoY growth to be so extreme. But it makes sense; retail brands have been under immense pressure to move inventory following a year of supply chain disruption and shifting consumer demand,” says Granof.

Despite the uptick in popularity, Granof says auditors did find some areas of needed improvement for retailers investing in endless aisle. When it takes multiple devices and transactions to complete a single purchase, that can actually drive customers away from the retailer. 

Perhaps surprisingly, NewStore’s data suggests that luxury brands as a whole are deprioritizing online experiences, focusing on “fashion over function” instead.

Granof says it’s a misconception that omnichannel retail is only for the largest, luxury brands. Two of the top performing brands in NewStore’s research were Hibbett Sports and Shoe Carnival, and they both cater to more budget-conscious shoppers. Granof attributes their success to early investments in digital, and says it’s not too late for retailers that are currently lagging behind to follow in their footsteps.

“You don’t need to be the biggest or most popular retail brand to take the path toward omnichannel,” Granof says. “You simply need to have a changemaker internally who knows the importance of growing and evolving and can make it happen.”

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.